Government
11:25 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Around Illinois – April 30

  • Should recording police in action be illegal?
  • Splitting siblings under DCFS being reviewed
  • Lt. Gov. Simon has hearings in Freeport, Rockford
  • Six charged in Wrigley Field and restaurant "skimming"

Illinois House reconsidering ban on recording police

After recordings drew attention to rough police tactics at last year's Occupy protests, there's been an attempt to relax Illinois' ban on audio recording of police.

Police groups say the measure would put officers at risk and make it harder to investigate crimes.

Because of those objections, the effort to ease restrictions came up 15 votes short in the House.

Now Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says she's ready to try again.

"We're picking up votes and we think we have some momentum,” she said, “and so we're going to try to bring it back and run it again."

Nekritz says her new proposal adds protections for police: It would be a crime to alter a recording and use it to charge an officer with misconduct.

Nekritz says she doesn't expect police groups to change their position, but she says her colleagues will know she tried to address their concerns.

There's a push to get the law changed before the NATO summit in Chicago in May. That event is expected to draw thousands of protesters.

Bill would keep siblings under state care together

A plan before Illinois lawmakers would require siblings who are in state care to be kept together.

Supporters say siblings too often lose contact after foster care or adoption placements.

James McIntyre knows firsthand how difficult it can be for siblings who are put in care of the state's Department of Children and Family Services to stay in touch.

He claims his adoptive parents were abusive toward him, and left the state with two of his sisters in order to escape prosecution. He and other advocates for children in the care of DCFS say whenever possible, siblings should not be split up.

McIntyre says he lost contact with his sisters but was able to get back in touch through social media after he came across their records and read them when he wasn't supposed to.

"I found them on Facebook,” he said. “If it was not for Facebook, I would not have any contact with them still. I now have contact with three of my four sisters."

April Curtis, 32, is putting her 19-year-old sister through college. She spoke to a Senate panel about the obstacles she conquered in order to get in touch with her siblings.

 “For many years I had to wonder whether or not my sister was safe, whether or not my little brother was safe,” Curtis said, “and didn't know what it was like to spend a Christmas with them, a birthday with them, and just to know their well-being.”

The measure that would prevent separation is before the Senate for a vote. The House already approved it.

It still would allow brothers and sisters to be split-up in foster care if DCFS could prove that it served the children's interest.

Simon to hear from citizens in Freeport, Rockford

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will take part in a Rural Listening Post from this afternoon in Freeport to talk with rural leaders, citizens and employers on how to improve the quality of life in rural communities.

Simon will also bring the Classrooms First Commission to Rockford later that day to hold the final public hearing on the commission’s draft recommendations.

The listening post is hosted by the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, which Simon chairs, and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University. Attendees will answer a series of questions before being divided into small discussion groups.This event is from 1 to 3 p.m. at FHN Burchard Hills Family Healthcare Center, 1010 Fairway Drive, Freeport.

The Classrooms First Commission is proposing ways to help Illinois school districts consolidate and save up to $1 billion in operating costs by sharing services. Five-minute speaking slots will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The hearing is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the Rock Valley College Woodward Technology Center, Room 117-121, 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford

Input submitted online and at public hearings will help guide the Commission final report, due in July.

Six charged in Chicago “skimming” scheme

A Chicago man and five confederates have been charged with “skimming” personal banking information to make purchases of more than $200,000 from victims’ banking and credit card accounts.

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said Joseph Woods provided credit card readers to people who worked at Wrigley Field, Magnificent Mile’s RL Restaurant, and even Taco Bell and McDonald’s restaurants. The employees allegedly swiped credit and debit cards through the readers, enabling Woods to reproduce counterfeit credit cards to rack up charges.

The complaint alleges that the defendants spent more than $200,000 from victims’ banking and credit card accounts.

Madigan alleged Joseph Woods, 32, of Chicago, organized the scheme by paying employees to skim credit card information of paying customers using a small credit card reader provided to them by Woods. The employees allegedly swiped customers’ cards through the readers, enabling Woods to reproduce counterfeit credit cards to rack up thousands of dollars in charges.

Financial institutions compromised in the scheme include Chase, U.S. Bank, Citibank, Harris Bank, American Express, Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank. The banks assisted in the investigations and are notifying potential victims.